Employee Creativity & Managerial Responsibility: Acritical Study


Dr. M. Sureesh Baabu
Department of Management Studies
Sri Venkateswara University

Gaurav Rewari
Marketing Associate
O.P. Jindal Global University
Near Jagdishpur Village, Sonipat-130001

S.G. Balaji
Assistant Professor
Department Of Management Studies
Aalim Muthmmed Salegh College of Engineering
Avadi – IAF, Chennai-55


There is a growing emphasis in recent times on how to maximize the work efficiency of new generation knowledge works thereby meeting the market demands that are constantly in volatile mode. While engendering the talents of Generation X and Y in tune with the customer preferences the issue of creativity figures more prominently. Any attempt to optimize the pace of work processes towards creating everlasting impressions from the service receivers must apply itself to the task of laying the creativity path in the organization. Described as 'employee creativity', the managerial responsibilities and employees preferences are rightly captured in the article for better understanding of readers.

Key Words: Employee Creativity, Managerial Responsibility.


In today's highly competitive marketplace, one of the key ingredients of a company's survival is its ability to generate new ideas or better ways of doing things.

Employee creativity is encouraged in order to obtain a competitive advantage and an innovative edge within organizations. Companies such as 3M, General Electric, IBM, Johnson and Johnson, Merck, Motorola, Proctor and Gamble and Sony use their employees' creativity as an economic resource and effectively apply a 'continuous creativity' strategy. Firms using their employees' creativity had been shown to have conclusive advantages over those who neglect this factor. Therefore, more and more companies participate in the race of creating new products, new markets and new ways of promotion. Thus, the companies that do so increase the velocity of the transformation of creative ideas into innovations, adding pressure to the competition. For example, 25–30 years ago, Sony Corporation could reap the fruits from a revolutionary innovation (such as the Walkman) for 3–5 years before competitors could produce a competitive product. These first-mover lead advantages declined to only six months by the end of the 1980s.


Creativity means the ability to produce something that's new and that will add value to the company. It can include fresh approaches to production, managing people, or delivering services—anything with a tangible result. Not surprisingly, managers can help build an organizational culture that supports creativity.

Creativity refers to employees' generation of novel and useful ideas concerning products, procedures, and processes at work.

It is the subject of a new study by Jing Zhou, associate professor of management at the Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Management, and Shung Jae Shun from Washington State University. 

In studies both in the United States and abroad, Zhou has looked at a number of factors influencing workplace creativity. In Korea, Zhou and Shun surveyed 290 employees and supervisors at 46 companies that included large, established corporations and new ventures in industries as diverse as construction design, cable, electronics, and telecommunications. In each case, they measured employees' perceptions of their managers and, from data collected on the employees' creativity, performed regression analysis to see if different leadership styles would predict creativity.

"Our results showed that in contrast to those who micromanage," Zhou says, "supervisors who provide employees with intellectual stimulation and encourage them to think outside the box have a positive impact on creativity."

Part of the challenge for managers is understanding the nature of creativity in the context of their organization, Zhou says. In prior studies, she debunked a number of myths about creativity, including the misconception that only smart people are creative and that their ideas come to them with little or no effort. "Creativity does not come randomly," she says. "It's often a long process and takes place in stages."

Another myth is that creative people tend to work on their own. The study contends that creativity is actually a social process, and creative people often are stimulated by working with others. "A culture that does not support cross-fertilization or open communication between different areas of the company is not a culture that supports creativity," Zhou says. "The same is true for a company that is so rigid that its employees are afraid to try something new for fear of making mistakes."

In past studies, Zhou also found that creativity is more likely to occur where managers provide employees with nonjudgmental feedback about their ideas and helpful information to improve their job performance. There is an irony, however, to the concept of creativity, particularly in the context of an organization striving to create new and better ideas. "When times are tough, companies tend to take steps that ultimately discourage creativity," Zhou says. "They don't necessarily encourage new ideas because they cannot afford to make any mistakes. Unfortunately, many organizations don't really understand how the creative process can benefit them. If a company is creative in improving its processes, for example, it would probably become more efficient, which would help it during difficult times."

Figure 1: A general model of employee creativity

Employee creativity is a mixture of goal orientation, team learning behavior, and individual creativity.

Creativity is examined through goal orientation. These orientations can be a result of internal factors in which individuals are influenced by their own personal desire to perform in such a way.  These desires are motivated by individual beliefs without the influence of external rewards.  On the other hand, individuals may also be influenced by external factors such as competing with others, acknowledgement, or avoiding criticism.

The extrinsic factors can be divided into active and passive approaches: those who seek to attain favorable judgments, and those who avoid unfavorable judgments, respectively.

At the individual level, intrinsic motivation towards creativity leads to a higher level of learning orientation (the acquisition of new knowledge and inclination towards a mastery of tasks).  Employee learning orientation is linked to an employee's preference for challenging activities and learning, which may enhance creative problem solving and lead to translating problem solutions into innovations.

Working with a team can introduce additional influences and challenges in the learning process.  Teams that seek information, address differences within the group, and question problem-solving assumptions engage in team learning behavior.  This brings about concern regarding the team process of learning behavior:

  • Team learning behavior influences employee learning and creativity – with the presence of team learning behavior, individuals with a disposition towards learning thrive.
  • Team learning behavior influences employees' active approach – those with an active approach excel within the context of team learning behavior.
  •  Team learning behavior controls for those with a passive approach – it encourages them to speak freely in an open and positive group dynamic.


Figure 2: Basic model of employee's creativity regulation

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Source: E-mail January 23, 2011


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